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For several years, I faithfully blogged on a daily basis at conferences, spring and fall, from Orlando to Bangalore.  Then I hit a bit of a personal recession, missing the opportunity in 2014 to attend either an ASUG/Sapphire, or an SAP TechEd. Here I am in the magic kingdom, or is that the mentor magic space, writing my views from a sterile hotel room and preparing to get it done.  I’d normally have written up my pre-travel notes, published my planned schedule, and as we say in Scouts, been prepared for this week. But for various reasons, one of which was a power outage that wasn’t blocked as planned and practiced, I am behind the curve.  I’ll do my best to communicate the high energies and the low comedy of this year’s co-located ASUG Annual Conference and Sapphire Now.

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Starting with staying in a new hotel (for me) and a dark of the moon trip to the airport (above), my Monday logistics weren’t as smooth as I’d like.  I did meet some SAP user colleagues from the Baltimore area on the plane, who oddly enough also got onto the same Mears shuttle once out of the airport.  There are often hassles with this ride sharing, as fellow Mentor and OA Brother Simon To posted late last night “When the Mears lady calls my number for the shuttle, i’ll dance & say “yeah, going to get some cold cut today” sapphirenow ASUG2015.  I dutifully boarded the bus, sat while more passengers were called in, and we took off for the swamps of central Florida – what’s left of them.  Skipping a year of conferences in 2014, I noticed more changes than if I had been back – renamed hotels, a giant London eye clone Ferris wheel, and new luxury resorts. Oops, we stopped at one hotel and no one got off.  Turns out the driver had a handwritten list of stops (hello, SAP travel planning – training 101?) with my mid-priced BestWestern written down as CrownPlaza. I was not amused.  But Vijay and Gretchen had a little fun at my expense.

Vijay Vijayasankar Thereby making it less sustainable than it could be , but still more sustainable than a cab ?

Jim Spath Paper dispatch orders. Sigh.

Vijay Vijayasankar Well you are going to a conference where paper badges are used

Jim Spath Hand written dispatch orders.

Gretchen Lindquist Taxi service is worth every penny. #NoAggravation

Jim Spath Car pooling FTW.

So far, I have the last word, which everyone knows in internet threads, means I win. But I felt somewhat of a loser as we passed my hotel just off the interstate, made multiple other stops, and I ended up last off the bus. FILO. How much do you tip a driver who was given bad directions from someone else, yet didn’t confirm them with the passenger? Just askin’.

The latest version of the conference Agenda Builder seems a lot like the older versions I’ve seen for a few years. I will leave it to the googlers to find when I said this before, but if you have a time-based app, and you export that data to an Excel format, the dates had better end up as date-type fields. Every time I try to sort the times chronologically, which I like to do for the simple reason of finding conflicts between the official conference schedule and other impinging events (which I may not want to do in MS Outlook), I find it impossible.  One more – check the start time column I sorted:

Track Sub Track Speakers Start Time End Time
Platform and Technology SAP HANA Platform Matthias Haendly 1:00 PM 1:45 PM
Business Integration, Technology & Infrastructure BITI: Systems Management Daniel Belson | Deepesh Kumar Koppunuru 11:00 AM 12:00 PM
Supply Chain Management SCM: Supply Chain Planning Tod Stenger 11:00 AM 12:00 PM
Partner and SME Solutions Exhibitors Juergen Thomas 12:00 PM 12:20 PM
Solution Manager SOLMAN: Application Lifecycle Management Maio Hui 12:30 PM 1:30 PM
Platform and Technology SAP HANA Platform Balaji Krishna 2:00 PM 2:20 PM
Platform and Technology SAP HANA Platform Milt Simonds 2:30 PM 2:50 PM
Default Default Geoff Scott | Keith Sturgill 4:30 PM 5:00 PM
Default Default Michael Strahan 5:00 PM 6:00 PM
Default Default Bill McDermott 9:00 AM

10:30 AM

Start my day with a HANA session at 1 PM, skip back in time to run the 11 AM gauntlet, go forward, and at the end of the day, groundhog day leap back to the 9 AM keynote.  This does not compute.

Also, PLEASE LET ME DELETE THE KEYNOTES FROM MY PERSONAL AGENDA.  I don’t need to go, and often do not want to go.  6+ hours of monologues?  No thank you very much.

Later, I exported this in a calendar format and brought it into my corporate email/scheduler/notes.  We’ll see how this looks on my tiny phone screen – it is pleasantly readable on a large monitor, to the point of being quite useful in seeing the gaps and overlaps not so visible above.

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My work schedule sits parallel to the conference schedule, which I think is the right thing to do, even though some of the office appointments are physically at the conference. But this is last weeks’ view – the days tend to fill as people perceive schedule gaps,and nature abhors a calendar vacuum.

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Before I boarded the shuttle to the hotels, I took advantage of the airport conference badge pick up.  I knew that I was going to the Convention Center on the pre-conference day where the lines would be much shorter than the next morning but I wanted to see the process. Very smooth, I must say, perhaps due to the clerk spotting me as a veteran when I handed over my code number and ID first thing.  She tried to push “the app”, which hints at good training/brainwashing, and I replied, “oh, it’s OK.” Not many apps, er, programs, can make me squee, and this is not one of them. I had downloaded it, found it tricky to connect into, challenging to search, and, oh, yeah, not synched with my personal agenda (see above).  I suppose I can use it to locate vendor booths if I run out of bread crumbs on the conference show floor.

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Minor bug fixes?  Let’s be honest. Bug fixes.

Ah. Familiar faces. Hi Kaela!

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I did not hit any pre-conference sessions this year due to budget and time constraints.  However, I hiked around the main lobby to run into colleagues, as well as stopping up on the floor where those sessions were running.  I’ll skip many of my contacts for expediency, and share one image of the in-between times.  No coffee/tea to be had, with ice cream being the consolation prize.

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From left to right: Thomas JungThomas Jung, Michael Eacrett, and Rich Heilman.

Later in the evening was the SAP Mentors reception, a gathering of many of the SAP world’s influencers, of which I am humbled to be a member.  More on the changes afoot later given the conspicuous absence of the Mentor’s godfather, cat herder, and chief musical instigator @finnern.

I’ve decided one of my goals this week is to capture Mentor’s backs.  Because, partly, as we say, Mentors have your back.

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To be continued.

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3 Comments

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  1. Somnath Manna

    Hi Jim,

    Your blogs covering SAP events with a mix of personal notes and snapshot of sessions attended had set a standard. Hope you have a good time in Orlando this time and look forward to your blogs this week.

    One thing to note – this year lot of buzz around Supply Chain Management and IBP. I see you had Tod Stenger’s session on SCM on your list. Would be interested to hear your review / learning from that session. Tod has been one SAP Consultant I revered almost like God in Supply Chain area having watched how he connected with couple of my past clients. He is the person pushing for S&OP way back in 2005 (or before) with xSOP that morphed into S&OP on HANA and now part of IBP 😀

    Best regards,

    Somnath

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    1. Jim Spath Post author

      Yes, I wanted to get to Tod’s session, but too many conflicts (not counting those occurring in my home town – see my blogspot post about that). For reasons explained in earlier blogs, I missed the session planning cycle, and for other reasons, my travel planning has been disjointed.  I spent more of Tuesday on the show floor talking to vendors than sitting in ASUG sessions. I will definitely look at the slides from Tod’s presentation.

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  2. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Hey, Jim, by the way – I found that mobile app, unlike the PC version, does allow to delete keynotes and concert from ‘My Agenda’. Just make sure not to delete something you really need accidentally, ’cause adding it back is a pain. In the app I also couldn’t change time for one of the personal appointments that I added incorrectly. Oh well, one day they’ll get it right… SAPPHIRE 2025? 🙂

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